Friday, March 15, 2013

Pizza Founder Wins Preliminary Injunction Against Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

A Michigan federal district court yesterday issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of the Affordable Care Act contraceptive coverage mandate in a suit by Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan and his property management company Domino farms Corp. In Monaghan v. Sebelius, (ED MI, March 14, 2013), the court held that plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their Religious Freedom Restoration Act challenge, writing:
the Court finds that DF is merely the instrument through and by which Monaghan expresses his religious beliefs. Accordingly, DF may assert an RFRA claim on Monaghan’s behalf. The Court takes no position as to whether DF has an independent right to freely exercise religion....
The Court’s task is not to question whether providing coverage is against Monaghan’s religious beliefs; that much is largely taken on Monaghan’s word.... Rather, the Court’s task is to determine whether this burden on Monaghan’s religious exercise is substantial. The Court finds that it is. Monaghan must violate his beliefs and modify his behavior or else pay substantial fines.
The court went on to hold that the government had not shown it has a compelling interest to enforce the mandate against these particular plaintiffs, given the numerous exemptions that lead to 190 million people being outside the mandate's coverage. Thomas More Law Center issued a press release on the decision.